The Gerdau steel mill in Cartersville donated more than 5,500 items to the local community this summer.
The company was participating in United Way’s Christmas in July campaign, which helps replenish food pantry shelves during the summer when donations are typically low. For each of the past nine years, Gerdau has initiated a food drive amongst its employees for the campaign, and it has been known to get rather competitive.
“It fits our group well here,” said Improvement Facilitator John Cremers, who is the primary organizer of the collection of food items and deliveries. “The guys are always interested in giving back to the community. And we made it into sort of a competition where each department kept a count of how many items were brought in by the employees for each department. ... And of course, the meltshop doesn’t want the rolling mill to beat them in donations, and Logistics doesn’t want Quality Assurance to beat them in donations, so it was just kind of a neat, friendly competition way to build enthusiasm and get some donations to give to food banks.”
Employees at Gerdau had multiple ways to contribute to the cause. The company raffled off donated items and held a cookout to raise money to purchase food to be donated.
Employees could also donate food items directly. When all the food items had been collected and purchased, Gerdau dropped them off at United Way food pantries such as Allatoona Resource Center in Acworth, Salvation Army in Cartersville and North Bartow Community Services in Adairsville.
Cremers said the response to the food drive at Gerdau has steadily increased amongst employees each year. He hopes that, in addition to helping poverty-stricken individuals, Gerdau employees will stop to think about the struggles those individuals face daily.
“Every year, it seems like someone’s head will pop up who we haven’t really heard from before. And it’s always been a really nice way to get people involved and talking and thinking about stuff besides the everyday things that you have to worry about. Because when you’re talking about people not having enough food, it kind of puts other problems into a different light. You know, it gives you some perspective,” Cremers said.
Vice President and General Manager Jim Christina praised Cremers’s efforts with the organization of the food drive at Gerdau.
“John’s really picked the ball up and run with it since [the program’s] inception here,” Christina noted. “And he’s really done a great job, really motivating people and bringing them together and helping support the community.”
According to a press release, Gerdau’s involvement in the local community is part of the company’s social responsibility program, which has been put in place in each of the 14 countries where it operates. The program focuses on community support, quality of management and education.